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11 posts from March 2011

March 30, 2011

Turtle Found that Pooped Plastic for a Month

Mother Nature Network 3.30.11

Main_turtle_16 One of the more disturbing effects of our over-indulgence and reliance on use-and-toss disposables rests in the significant health risks it poses to animals via marine pollution. Of the issues being discussed this week at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, one report that has experts talking is the appalling story of a sea turtle that ingested a large piece of plastic that became lodged in its gastrointestinal tract, preventing the turtle from normal digestion. After researchers dislodged the shard of plastic, the animal proceeded to defecate 74 foreign objects over the next month!

According to the report, which was issued by Seaturtle.org's Marine Turtle Newsletter (pdf), about half of all surveyed sea turtles have ingested plastic. 

See what shocking items this turtle ingested by reading the full article here. To access advice and follow conference events, visit the group's website here.
Image: Mnn.com

Republicans Scrap 'Compostable' Utensils in House Cafeterias

Los Angeles Times 3.25.11

60390430 After gaining control of the House, Republicans are piling their plates with a controversial issue that's separating lawmakers significantly along party lines.

According to Republicans, the use of "compostable" cups and utensils was "neither cost-effective nor energy-efficient," as reported by the L.A. Times. Notorious plastic utensils and flimsy polystyrene cups are back, and Democrats have a mouthful to say about it. Modifying utensils in the cafeteria, which serves approximately 230,000 meals a month, was an essential part of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Green the Capitol initiative.  Some lawmakers are advocating the wisdom of reusables by bringing mugs from home and suggesting metal spoons and forks as a solution to the issue.
 
Take a look at our disposable lunch item facts for information regarding cutlery and lunch waste.

Read the full article here.

Image: Jim Young / Reuters

Some Grocers Abandon Rebates for Reusable Bags

USA Today 3.25.11

20110316__USGroceryPushingReusables~1_VIEWER Grocery store chains including Kroger and Safeway are beginning to move away from the pennies-per-bag rebates they once supplied, saying they don't do enough to prevent customers from forgetting reusables in their cars or at home. In order to avoid plastic-bag bans and taxes, which could potentially cost supermarkets or their customers more money, many chains opted for rebates (credits), but they didn't produce the results owners hoped for.

Company officials said customer feedback indicates most want to use reusable bags, but it’s a matter of making it a habit. Kroger is utilizing plastic bag recycling containers and sprinkling parking lots with signs asking, "Are your reusable bags still in the car?" Kroger also holds bag design contests and giveaways and sends shoppers coupons for reusable bags.

Read about our stance on the downsides of cheap reusables here.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: USA Today

Plastic: Too Good to Throw Away

New York Times 3.23.11

18opedimg-popup Persistently avoiding plastic may seem key to combating over-consumption and the production of plastic-based materials, but, in reality, the issue is far more complex. In a recent Op-Ed piece, Susan Freinkel, a New York Times contributor and author of the forthcoming book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, dispels the common misconception that suggests shunning plastic and settling for bag bans and fees will drastically alter the ethos of our culture.

Instead, Freinkel advocates for shifting the public perception of plastic as cheap and worthless to durable and profitable by eliminating its presence in disposables.

 Check out our "I'm not a . . ." or "Thank you" series, which offer affordable, sustainable alternatives to use-and-toss disposables like plastic bottles and bags.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: www.nytimes.com

March 22, 2011

Bangalore: Plastic Bag Ban Remains Ineffective

Expressbuzz.com 3.17.11

2011031763900301 Bangalore, a city in south central India, recently implemented a ban on plastic bags of less than 40 microns that seems to have little effect on Bangaloreans. According to the notification from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), March 15 was the deadline for banning such bags; but city folks were seen carrying bags of even less than 20 microns despite the ordinance. 

“Since a 40-50 micron bag costs more than a 20 micron-thick plastic bag, demand is always higher for the latter from medicine shops and small retailers,” according to a small scale plastic manufacturing unit owner as reported by Sohini Das

The previous provision focused on a thickness limit of 20 microns, but now the recent Plastic Handling Rules of 2011 mandates that manufacturers do not produce plastic below 40 microns in thickness. Without proper enforcement and continual awareness, shop-owners and consumers remain resistant to the newly modified ban.

Check out the full article here

Check out our stance on fees vs. bans here.

Image: Hindu.com

Japan's Wind Turbines Provide Power After Disaster

Treehugger.com 3.18.11

20110318-japan-wind-turbine Since last week, the scale of destruction caused by the Japanese trifecta disaster of earthquake-tsunami-nuclear power plant crisis, and the unfortunate casualties, has captivated individuals worldwide. As Japan struggles to recooperate, they're relying on a familiar, green power source.

Japan's wind turbines are currently producing 175 MW of Japan's approximate total wind capacity of 275 MW, according to the Huffington Post as reported by Kelly Rigg. Operators are being asked to increase operations where possible to assist with electricity shortfalls, and while shares in the Tokyo stock market have fallen during the crisis, the stock price of Japan Wind Development Co. Ltd. has risen from 31,500 yen on 11 March to 47,800 yen on 16 March, according to the Huffington Post.

To read the full article, click here

Image: Treehugger.com

 

China, Malaysia and Czech Republic Become Latest Nations to Ban BPA

GreenBiz.com 3.15.11

Detskelahvegrafika China, Malaysia and the Czech Republic have joined the list of countries setting bans on the notorious endocrine-mimicking chemical Bisphenol-A, which has been linked in lab tests to a wide range of health issues. However, the rationale behind the ban is arguably diminished by an erroneous compromise: Baby bottles will go, but cups, plastic food containers, receipts and the linings of tin cans containing BPA will remain available to the public. Only items with a higher probablility of exposure in children and infants are being targeted.

China's Ministry of Health announced it plans to ban any BPA-containing baby bottles or other food and drink items for children, but has no start date as of now, reported Shanghai Daily. Malaysia's ban on baby bottles made with BPA begins next March; and in order to comply with a European directive, the Czech Republic must recall polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA as of June 1, 2011.

The Centers for Disease Control says 93-percent of us have BPA in our bodies.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: czechposition.com 

March 15, 2011

TED talk: Using Nature's Genius in Architecture

TED.com 02.11

How can architects fuel sustainable architecture and eliminate raw materials? Peering into the beautiful, organic world of molecular plant structures and insect biology, developers are looking at nature for answers. At TEDSalon in London, Michael Pawlyn illustrates how biomimicry could potentially revolutionize the way humans develop and sustain resources.

This extraordinary science and art of emulating nature's complex biological systems to solve human issues involves three habits of nature: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun. Take a look at why Pawlyn suggests that adopting these habits is not only possible, but critical if we are to encourage sustainable design.

 

New Trade Organization for Sustainable Packaging

TreeHugger.com 3.10.11

Cola Packaging In order to facilitate sustainable packaging, prominent companies such as Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Kellogg's and others have formed a trade organization that will help the packaging industry maximize initiatives through relevant research and data collection. The Michigan-based institution, American Institution for Packaging and the Environment (Ameripen), will advocate science-based decision making by partnering with academic institutions, trade associations, non-profits and government agencies, according to Environmental Leader.

Earth911.com reports that packaging and containers contribute to approximately 56 percent of all plastic waste and about 75 percent of waste from residential households. As some of the most ubiquitously used product lines adopt more eco-friendly practices, we are one step closer to becoming a more sustainable economy.

To read the full article, click here.

Image: Treehugger.com

Plastic bag manufacturers sue Marin County over plastic bag ban

Plasticbaglaws.org 2.26.11

S-PLASTIC-BAG-BAN-REJECTED-large Following California's attempts to implement a statewide legislation to reduce consumption and distribution of plastic bags, Marin County and others continue to battle over effective methods of local regulation. Meanwhile, opposition groups like the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition pose a challenge.

Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (a plastics industry front group) filed suit against Marin County Feb. 24 over the plastic bag ordinance that the county's Board of Supervisors adopted in January, according to Plasticbaglaws.org. However, Marin County isn't the only one being targeted. The STPB has threatened and/or sued every California city that adopted a plastic bag ordinance after statewide legislation failed, leaving counties to consider their own bag fees and bans.

To read the full article, click here

Check out our stance on fees vs. bans here.

March 04, 2011

Hawaii County Council advances plastic bag ban bill

Hawaii Tribune-Herald 2.17.11

HawaiiCouncil-250x159 The Hawaii County Council advanced a bill that would make the island of Hawaii the third island to prohibit retailers from distributing plastic bags to consumers for free. However, the bill has been met with controversy as councilmen and retail merchants battle over penalty provisions and enforcements. In Kauai County, its council is already revising its bag ban less than a month after it went into effect in order to address complications that surfaced.

Despite controversy, Maui and Kauai implemented plastic bag bans January, 11, 2011, which have been praised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for reducing waste and preventing plastic from accumulating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, potentially harming turtles and other marine life.

Read more about out stance on fees vs. bans here.

Read the full article from Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Image:Change.org